UPDATE: In the wee hours last night after posting this article two important events were brought to my attention:
1. CBS just released the rest of the 60 Minutes interview with President Obama the day after the Benghazi attack. See what it says here at Fox in a post by Brett Baier, who I gave kudos to below. In it the president refused to call the attacks terrorism, notwithstanding his statement at the debate he’d called it that from day 1. It shows the president did not, in fact, take that position until much later, vindicating Mitt Romney in the debate and showing the president deceived the American people (with Cindy Crawley’s help). Byron York and Ari Fleischer both tweeted to ask “why sit on this information until now?” Makes me want to watch the Caddell video again…
2. I received a tweet last night pointing me to the website for Congressman Kelly of Pennsylvania. He’s a co-signer, along with over fifty other members of the House, of a letter sent to the president Friday demanding answers about Benghazi. More evidence people are starting to ask the right questions.
As Vic Lundquist reported, some in the media (Fox) have not let this go. Brett Baier in particular has done a great job. And I was moved when I saw Pat Caddell’s comments (video in Vic’s post, and re-included here below).
But today I finally, finally saw a headline that gave me a glimmer of hope about our media and Benghazi. Two mainstream papers are asking the right questions about what happened and why.
The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post have just, in the last two days, asked some pointed questions to the administration about what happened. Do we expect an answer before Tuesday? I don’t. And for that it’s difficult to forgive the media, as Pat Caddell says. They sat on this too long to allow the truth to get out in time for it to have an impact on people’s choices Tuesday. Unless you vote for Mitt and don’t let the president off the hook for hiding the ball.
In the Washington Post piece, the editorial board asks the reasons why the facility was so under-prepared when the threats of violence were so obvious?
Fox News reported this week that a secret cable described an Aug. 15 “emergency meeting” at the consulate, at which the State Department’s regional security officer “expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support and the overall size of the compound.”
Fox reported that the cable, dispatched to Washington, said the emergency meeting included a briefing about al-Qaeda training camps in the Benghazi area and Islamist militias, including those that allegedly carried out the Sept. 11 attack. In another cable on Sept. 11, hours before the attack, Mr. Stevens described “growing problems with security” in Benghazi and “growing frustration” with the local militias and police, to which the State Department had entrusted the consulate’s defense. Separately, according to a report on ForeignPolicy.com, Mr. Stevens may have dispatched a letter to Benghazi authorities, complaining that a policeman assigned to guard the consulate was photographing it on the morning of Sept. 11.
Even if you believe what the Post is willing to, that the ultimate US response was all that could be mustered (there seems to be evidence to the contrary due to assets being available in Italy and a drone flying overhead), they still ask the key question:
…why [were] the various agencies … not better prepared for such an emergency, given the clear warnings. Did the Obama administration’s political preoccupation with maintaining a light footprint in Libya lead to an ill-considered reliance on local militias, rather than on U.S. forces? Given the region’s instability, why were no military rapid-reaction assets — such as Special Forces or armed drones — within reach of Northern Africa?
While the agencies separately defend themselves — or not — the White House appears determined to put off any serious discussion of Benghazi until after the election. Sooner or later, however, the administration must answer questions about what increasingly looks like a major security failure — and about the policies that led to it.
Yes, it appears to be a major security failure, resulting from seriously flawed policies. But “sooner or later” is not really satisfactory to me, since I firmly believe that how the Obama administration planned for, responded to, and reported about this event is highly relevant to whether we should be voting for President Obama’s re-election.